Staying Current with Professional Development Courses for Business

Business professionals need to polish their skills all the time, and an excellent way to do that is by enrolling in professional development courses. In fact, continuous lifelong learning has become the norm in most thriving organizations today. Taking one or two classes every year is not excessive, and it can help employees gain confidence and boost productivity.

Picking Topics

There are so many possibilities available; it may be difficult to know where to start. Some employees want to stay up to date with current trends and industry changes. Others may wish to broaden their knowledge in a particular field, or develop new skills that can be immediately applied on the job. That’s why it’s so important to identify goals before jumping in and signing up for random courses.

Career Development

For people just wanting some general career development, who don’t have any specific skills in mind, here is a short list of suggested course topics that may be useful:

  • Networking: Everyone knows how important it is for career advancement, yet many talented business professionals lose out on important opportunities because they lack networking skills.
  • Time Management: Increasing personal productivity begins with good time management skills. Taking a course on time management will help employees focus on goal setting, maintaining focus, and taking responsibility for their personal success.
  • Career Branding: Smart organizations already use branding to give themselves a competitive advantage. Using brand management on an individual career level will have the same effect, helping individuals become competitive in the current job market.
  • Negotiation: Here is a topic that is key to business success. Whether it’s negotiating a new contract, or a pay increase, spending some time developing better negotiation skills is never a waste of time.
  • Public Speaking: It has been said that some people fear public speaking more than death itself, and the reason is often just a lack of proper training and development on the topic. Having excellent public speaking skills can help in all aspects of a career, from delivering a report at a staff meeting, to making a major presentation at an industry conference.

Make it a Priority

Taking professional development courses is an investment in the future, and should not be dismissed as optional or elective. Too many employees discover too late that they have not spent enough time or effort keeping themselves competitive in the job market. Taking just one or two courses a year can keep a competitive advantage.

Options for Leadership and Professional Development

Leadership and professional development often takes place in a classroom, which might be either online or in-person. But that’s not the only way to enhance your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Below are several additional options for career enhancement.

Job Shadowing

If you are curious about the various leadership roles available in your company, then you may wish to consider job shadowing. It is an easy way to learn first-hand about the roles and responsibilities of a position, before committing too much time learning about an area in-depth. Some companies have formal job shadowing programs, usually available through your Human Resources Department. If that’s not an option, you can still approach someone you know and ask them informally. Your manager may be able to help you with this.

Professional and Trade Organizations

You might consider membership in a professional or trade organization. You will find members who share your interests, either in a common profession or in a particular industry. One of the main reasons that these organizations exist is to expand the knowledge and skills of its members, while also promoting a set of professional standards. You could attend industry events, conferences, or workshops that are put on by the organization. Other opportunities don’t require physical attendance, such as reading trade journals, newsletters, or participating in webinars. All of these undertakings can promote professional development, and some companies will reimburse their employees for membership activities.

Volunteer

Consider volunteering as a way to promote your leadership and development plans. If there are limited opportunities for you to exhibit a particular skill within your organization, going outside as a volunteer may be an option for you. For example, if you need experience in accounting and finance, consider volunteering as the treasurer for a local club. Want to develop goal-setting, planning, and budgeting skills? Why not volunteer to plan and implement a major fund raising event? And don’t overlook the benefits of networking that come with a volunteer position.

Committees

Most companies have committees that are looking for new members. Perhaps you might join a committee on health and wellness, or office safety. Committee membership can sharpen your communication skills, as well as develop your leadership, influencing, organizational, and teamwork skills. This can be particularly useful if you don’t have those opportunities in your present position.

Don’t Limit Yourself!

Traditional training classes and workshops are just one way to go about leadership and professional development. As you can see, there are many other options available. Don’t get stuck thinking you have to wait for a class to improve yourself!

Professional Development Programs for Managers Today

With more and more baby boomers retiring, major changes are taking place in the workplace. In particular, as Millennials take over manager positions from their Baby Boomer (as well as Generation X) predecessors, professional development programs will need to be re-evaluated and made more relevant to today’s work environment. Unlike those before them, Millennials are actually excited about professional development, viewing it as extremely important to them. Therefore, companies need to offer updated and enhanced professional growth and development opportunities in order to attract and retain top talent.

Love of Learning

Millennials, more than any previous generation, have a love of learning new things. They grew up with access to the Internet, and are accustomed to having answers to their questions on-demand and personalized by a Google search. This translates to a continuous drive to acquire new knowledge, and learn new skills. Millennials will never be satisfied with the status quo. They need new challenges, and expect to be provided with developmental opportunities. And they expect these opportunities to start right away, not just after they have been in their position for a while. They expect to learn new things early and often. In fact, Millennials value quality developmental opportunities more than job security, or even higher pay.

Offer More Learning Options

Learning in a classroom is fine, but it’s not the only option. Millennials are eager to learn and acquire new skills, so offering a variety of learning options is a smart move. Some of these options might include:

  • Establish mentor programs
  • Create job shadowing opportunities
  • Provide job rotation and cross-training
  • Send workers to professional conferences
  • Offer the ability to attend off-site training and workshops
  • Bring in guest speakers
  • Assign stretch projects that go beyond regular duties
  • Develop “micro-learning” for mobile devices

Areas of Development

Helping your employees prepare for a digital future (e.g., advanced analytics, automation, artificial intelligence, etc.) is just one element of professional development. Other skill areas are in high demand, such as:

  • Managing interpersonal relationships
  • Enhancing innovation and creativity
  • Becoming more self-aware
  • Thinking strategically
  • Planning and organizing
  • Building business relationships

Become a Learning Organization

Millennials are going to push the envelope when it comes to personal and professional development, but that’s not a bad thing. Creating a learning organization is not only good for employee retention, it will also create a better workplace. One where every generation will want to work.

Leadership and Professional Development

Training

When a business person decides that it’s time to move up to the next level, that generally means seeking out professional development to master the competencies needed as a leader. Although everyone’s journey is unique, there are certain key abilities where everyone will require proficiency. Let’s explore some of those competencies in detail.

Training

Making Decisions Under Pressure

Members of any organization look toward their leader for direction and guidance. An effective leader will make confident decisions that drive productivity, resolve conflicts, and focus a team’s efforts on the right tasks at the right time. Professional development will help budding leaders evaluate their options, generate possible solutions, and then decide upon and implement the most logical strategies. With the proper development, these leaders will be able to convert conflicting opinions into useful insights, and make intelligent decisions even with limited time and other resources.

Developing Emotional Intelligence

Few would argue the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EI) to the effective functioning of any organization or team. It helps leaders identify and manage their own emotions, while simultaneously recognizing and influencing the emotions of others. Leaders benefit from professional development that will help them learn how to effectively connect with others, and support healthy and productive interactions even in stressful situations. EI also helps leaders identify team members who might be frustrated or burnt out, before these emotions can have an adverse impact on work.

Prioritizing Effectively

Everyone can benefit from some time management training. For leaders, the emphasis is less on being efficient, and more on being effective in their positions. This means improving their focus, identifying and avoiding obstacles, staying on track, and maintaining focus on the right priorities. Everyone has the same amount of time available to them. Effective leaders know how to get the most out of every minute.

Getting Results

Goals, plans, and objectives are important, but at the end of the day success is measured by the results that are accomplished. Leaders will benefit from professional development that helps them grow a leadership style that commands results, motivates their teams, and influences others to get the results they desire.

Using Critical Thinking

Critical thinking gives leaders the ability to evaluate, identify, and distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. It helps leaders determine the most efficient and effective course of action, while exploring challenges, identifying incorrect assumptions, and looking at things from a new perspective.

Customized Professional Development

There are many “off the shelf” professional development courses available on the market today. Depending on the organization and the resources available, it may be beneficial to ask an instructional design professional to customize these development resources to more effectively meet the needs of your organization. It can save time and effort in the long run.

 

Training Courses for Leadership Development

Training Courses for Leadership Development

 

There are so many people who call themselves leaders, whether that’s in business, education, government, or another field. Yet few would argue that we as a society are suffering from a lack of true leadership. We need more people who can provide vision, direction, and inspiration to help us reach our goals. While there is such a thing as a natural born leader, far more leaders received training and development to reach the level of successful leadership they desire. That’s where training courses for leadership development play a critical role.

The Difference between Leaders and Managers

While there is some overlap between the duties and responsibilities of leaders and managers, the two roles require distinctly different training and development courses in order to reach their full potential. To use a metaphor, a manager may be called upon to keep the ship sailing under normal conditions, while a leader will select the destination and make course corrections.

Here are a few typical training courses for leadership development:

Communication

Being able to communicate clearly and authoritatively is an essential skill for every leader. This includes effective listening, positive verbal as well as non-verbal communication, delegating tasks clearly and efficiently, giving presentations, and managing meetings.

Critical Thinking

In a critical thinking course, leaders learn to become more disciplined in their thinking. Critical thinking is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence as opposed to emotion. That’s not to say that leaders are without emotion. On the contrary, emotional intelligence is another important skill for leaders.

Motivation

Employees will work to earn a paycheck, but in order to inspire passion and enhanced productivity leaders need to how to motivate their team members. This might be through recognition and rewards, mentoring, asking for input, setting stretching goals, or any number of other techniques that leaders can learn through training and professional development.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Effective leaders are always looking for ways to deliver performance feedback without becoming a micromanager. To do this, leaders need to learn how to set clear expectations, building employee confidence, providing positive reinforcement, and delivering respectful and specific advice when needed. Leaders must also learn to graciously accept feedback from others, so that that are always learning and growing in their position.

Many More Skills

There are many more skills that leaders can potentially learn in professional development courses. The above examples are just that – examples. Also, every individual and every organization is likely to emphasize some skills over others, so don’t make assumptions about what might be needed until you’ve researched the position and the organization.

Professional Development Courses for Business

Professional Development Courses for Business

Employees today operate in an ever-changing and highly competitive workplace where continuous professional development has become the “new normal.” For example, every time a new version of a computer program is introduced or a new process is developed, employers expect their workers to become proficient in order to stay employable. Professional development courses for business satisfy this need. Additionally, employees feel valued when they are given the opportunity to participate in training to update or improve their skills.

What Training is in Demand?

Technology is always evolving, so naturally training on new developments in software and hardware will always be sought-after. But that’s not the only training that is in high demand. Soft skills training is also critical to the success of every business, since these types of skills are not usually taught in traditional academic settings. Topics such as multi-generational diversity, risk taking, problem solving, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, or business etiquette are not typically available in school, so professional development courses that teach these skills and abilities are in demand today.

Soft Skills

In a recent Global Human Capital Trends report from Deloitte University Press, soft skills training was rated as a “critical priority” for today’s workforce. Gen Z employees are often viewed as technologically savvy, but lacking in such soft skills as emotional intelligence, collaboration, or negotiation. Offering professional development courses on these topics will not only improve the skill sets of employees, but it will also foster employee retention, increase employee engagement, and build a strong learning culture. In this new model of employee development, ongoing professional development has become essential.

Online Training

Since online training can be completed anywhere a learner has a computer and a Wi-Fi connection, it has become tremendously popular for professional development courses. Often self-directed and always convenient, enrollment in this type of training has increased exponentially in the last decade. Online courses also allow employees to pursue professional development opportunities at their own pace. The content is consistent for all users, it’s extremely flexible, and learners can go back over the information as often as they like without feeling pressure for being “too slow.

That’s not to say that there is no place for instructor-led training anymore. It’s just that this format for training is now reserved for situations where being social and learning collaboratively is beneficial. Face-to-face training is also useful for when workers need a break from their routine. However, regardless of whether it’s offered online or in person, professional development courses have become increasingly important to the success of any business.